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Electric Citrus Juicers

By Cook's Illustrated Published February 2015

How we tested

One lemon for a vinaigrette is easy enough to juice by hand, but for larger extraction projects we use an electric citrus juicer. A good one should extract maximum juice with minimal effort and be easy to clean, tidy to store, and quiet enough to use early in the morning. Our favorite electric citrus juicer, the Breville Stainless Steel Juicer, is all those things, but at $200, it’s an investment. Could we find a good citrus juicer for less than $100?

We compared seven models priced from $20 to $82; all have a spinning reamer that you hand-push a halved citrus fruit into to force out the juice. We juiced 10 limes, 10 oranges, and 10 grapefruits with each and measured how much juice they pressed from the fruit, as well as how long it took. We also considered how challenging they were to use, clean, and store, and how quietly they operated.

Except for the motorized bases, all the juicer parts are top-rack dishwasher-safe. Only one was annoying to clean: It has six detachable parts, the most of any we tested, and some were hard to snap together. We docked points accordingly.

Next, we looked at where the juice goes once it’s extracted from the fruit. Two juicers have attached carafes; five dispense their juice from a spout, and the user finds and secures a catching vessel below. We preferred attached carafes because when you’re working with slippery fruit (often early in the morning), it’s easy to jostle the catching vessel and pour out the juice all over the counter. The two fixed carafes felt more secure; both detach with a twist and have tidy pouring spouts, so they can go directly on the table for serving.

Last but not least, we looked at how easily and thoroughly the juicers juiced. Testers found that a good juicer can extract 30 percent more juice than a bad one. The difference? Their reamers. The reamer is the plastic domed piece that bores into the fruit, pressing out the juice. All of them are crisscrossed with ridges. If the ridges were too sharp, they cut into fruit, sectioning it and spinning it around instead of pushing into the pulp; too dull and the fruit slipped off, or they couldn’t bore deep enough into pulp and left good juice behind. The best juicers came with two medium-ridged reamers, one for small fruit like limes and lemons and one for large fruit like oranges and grapefruit.

In the end we narrowed it down to two machines: Both were easy to clean with stable attached carafes and well-designed reamers. We put these two through a final gauntlet of 50 limes each—100 halves of fruit—one right after another, to compare how durable and easy they were to use. One model was the ultimate, inexpensive victor; it’s quieter and smoother, and it plowed through the fruit with ease. The runner-up model is our previous Best Buy; it was redesigned since we last tested. It worked well, but its motor is louder—not horribly so, but enough that you might not want to use it early in the morning. And while it never stopped working, testers did note a burning smell toward the end of our 50 limes.

So what do you sacrifice by choosing our favorite inexpensive model at $20 rather than the $200 Breville? The Breville is definitely higher quality, sturdier, and attractive in stainless steel. It uses a power-assisted lever instead of your hand to push the fruit against the reamer, which makes it slightly easier. But hand-pushing the fruit for our winning inexpensive model isn’t too taxing, and you get a tactile signal when it’s spent (you can feel the reamer ridges through the peel). For its efficient juicing, easy use, and smooth motor, our Best Buy is our top pick for an inexpensive citrus juicer.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*
Best Buy
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*